What are you going to remember from your week in Kathmandu? That week of rest, shopping, relaxation, and gastic distress?
MEN SLEEPING IN PUBLIC
HIGHLY DECORATIVE ANIMAL CARCASSES
GRAPHICALLY DEPICTED ANIMAL GENITALIA
THESE SCARY ASS PIGEONS
AND THE MOST AMAZING YOUNG WOMAN YOU’VE EVER MET
You couldn’t believe your luck. You happened to meet her on your very last day in Kathmandu. Wondered where she’d been your whole travel life. 20 years old, traveling around the world by herself on a bicycle on… drum roll… five bucks a day. Your inner hyper-competitive traveler didn’t even have time to awaken. She knew she’d been defeated. Shirine was doing it at twenty. Had been traveling around for years… in her teens.
Full of energy, always smiling, bubbling. Had a few complaints about Indian sexual harrassment but had no horror stories to speak of. No loneliness. No boredom. No emotional breakdowns. Just loving raw life.
You asked her everything you could. About the gear, her bank statements, her means of making money. If she had a blog. She does: http://awanderingphoto.wordpress.com . You talked gear like there was no tomorrow. She needed to sell her tent. You happened to want to buy one. It was perfectly synchronized traveler luck. She couldn’t believe how easy it was to sell it. You couldn’t believe the deal you just got!
It took 4 years to meet her. You haven’t been this impressed with someone since you met Levi back in Bulgaria. She, unlike you, feels at home everywhere. Life is full of wonder and possibility. You may be a traveler, but you could never deceive yourself; you are not, have not, and never will be the kind of traveler that doesn’t struggle with boredom and loneliness. Some people have it in them, some people don’t.
It just so happened that you’d met her two days after you’d hit rock bottom in travel enthusiasm. That day there were wifi malfunctions, health malfunctions, and later a complete emotional malfunction. It was one of those days when everything went wrong and you didn’t have an iota of patience for anything or anyone. You were reduced to a puddle of tears and snot when you realized that you’d managed to destroy your vestiges of clothing by skating by an iron gate to avoid a throng of shuffling Japanese tourists. That gate slathered you in the thickest, blackest grease you’ve ever seen, and you had to plead with the hotel staff to give you a bar of soap to lift it off your skin and watch. The clothes went straight into the trash; there was no saving them. All you’d wanted was a bottle of water. Maybe some tampons. But the goddamn tampons were more expensive there than they are in the States. So, after re-dressing and storming out of the room, you bought that stupid bottle. You drank your water and stared at the tampons in the shop window like a person who has all the tampons, and no water. Travel sucks sometimes.
You dreamed feverishly of going home. You couldn’t wait. You just wanted time to pass faster. You cursed yourself for buying a ticket to Malaysia. But what could you do? Suck it up. Wake up the next day and start fresh.
And then you met Shirine in the wake of an invitation from Levi to join him in Columbia and manage a hostel with him for a couple of months. You cussed at him. Damned him. How dare he tempt you when you were feeling so low? But the appeal was strong. And then Shirine rejuvenated you. You couldn’t wait to hit the dirt again. Couldn’t wait.
One of the greatest gifts of all is the gift of inspiration.